The following is an excerpt from our monthly newsletter sent by Will Fleming, President of GSS.

Restaurant restrictions are being lifted and people are slowly coming back to the dining room. Inflation isn’t going anywhere soon. So how do I price accordingly? Will suppliers raise their prices? And how should I price in the cost of labor and fill my talent gap?

Right now, our clients are reporting a 30% – 40% premium to hire talent. Passing this on to customers in the current environment might not be possible, so what can you do to mitigate this cost? I have a couple of suggestions:

Turn Inward

Try internal training and promoting. It’s less expensive than hiring externally and creates an environment that motivates people. Remember, the best leaders give their team the tools they need to be successful then get out of the way.

Cross-train a food runner to pick up shifts at the host stand, or a fry cook to work the grill to add flexibility to your current staff.

These training opportunities often help identify those staff members most eager to learn and grow in your company, so use this not only to improve operations but also as a sort of working interview.

Once you’ve identified the most eager employees, promoting from within – even if it is someone without as much experience – will create an environment that inspires striving for opportunity. All while avoiding the aforementioned premium.

Turn Outward

Hire from outside the industry. Hiring experienced restaurant professionals is expensive at the current moment. Many have left the industry permanently, leaving the gap we’re currently trying to fill and contributing to the wage inflation we’re experiencing.

The 30% – 40% premium mentioned above, and the outlandish signing bonuses we see on “Now Hiring” signs, all seem geared to bringing back the previous workforce. But there is talent to be found in other sectors of the economy.

For example, teachers often check many of the boxes you’d want in a customer-facing role: strong interpersonal skills, patience, and dedication. Find the qualities you are hiring for and train them on the hard skills.


What can you offer that won’t break the bank? What about flexible scheduling? Or a fixed schedule? Can you offer family meals for the team?

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The restaurant industry can have a bad rap on the quality-of-life spectrum of employment options, so what can you do to fight back against that? One great example is the messaging that Turning Point is utilizing.

The food service industry is the most competitive in the world. Businesses that fill their staffing needs through innovative practices will not only be set up for a successful rebound but also have a leg up on the competition in the war for talent.

Ready to take charge of filling the talent gap?

If you would like some help in thinking through the current labor shortage, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. Thinking strategically about how to solve problems is what we do, and we’d be happy to help.

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